Pew: R.I. could operate for 19.1 days on only rainy day funds in FY17

RHODE ISLAND WAS reported to have rainy day funds that would cover 19.1 days of operation in fiscal 2017. / COUTESY PEW CHARITABLE TRUSTS
RHODE ISLAND WAS reported to have rainy day funds that would cover 19.1 days of operation in fiscal 2017. / COURTESY PEW CHARITABLE TRUSTS

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island was reported to have the capacity to operate only by rainy day funds for 19.1 days in fiscal 2017, representing 5.2 percent of yearly spending, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Fiscal 50, released last week.

The United States median rainy day fund was reported to have the capacity to cover 20.5 days of operation, or 5.6 percent of yearly spending.

The report showed that eight states had less than a week’s worth of operating costs in reserve in fiscal 2017, including Connecticut.

Rhode Island was estimated to have $196 million in rainy day funds in fiscal 2018, which would allow the state to operate for 18.8 days, while the U.S. state median was estimated to be 20.2 days of operation available in rainy day funds in fiscal 2018.

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The Fiscal 50 is a collection of reports that provide a snapshot of a state’s financial health over time, including personal income data, revenue collection, spending and population growth.

Rhode Island’s personal income growth rate in fiscal 2017 was 2.7 percent year over year, the study reported, and a 0.9 percent annual growth rate since the fourth quarter of 2007, before the market recession.

Rhode Island was determined to have a 4.4 tax revenue volatility index score from 1998 to 2017. The median volatility index score in the U.S. was determined to be 5. The lowest volatility score went to South Dakota at 2.7 while Alaska was reported to have the highest volatility score at 37.6.

Rhode Island’s population growth from 2007 to 2017 was just 0.02 percent per year, the smallest growth rate of any state in the country. Vermont experienced neither population growth nor decline, while Michigan and West Virginia lost population in that time.

The Ocean State was also said to have had its revenue exceed its expenses by 2 percent from 2002 to 2016, just below the national median of 2.2 percent. In that time, Rhode Island reported a deficit four times.

From 2000 to 2016, the state’s spending on Medicaid as a share of own-source revenue increased 4.7 percentage points to 23.1 percent. The U.S. median increased 4.9 percentage points to 17.1 percent in that time.

Chris Bergenheim is the PBN web editor.